Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Campaign cash and army of lobbyists keep 'clean coal' boondoggle afloat for a decade

By Karl Bremer

The Duluth News-Tribune recently published an excellent two-part series by reporter Peter Passi on the Excelsior Energy “clean coal” pipedream that’s been vacuuming up millions in tax dollars from the federal government and State of Minnesota for the better part of the past decade with little to show for it except for a well-paid husband/wife ownership team.

What the newspaper neglected to examine was the role that over $325,000 in state and federal political campaign contributions and lobbying expenses have played in keeping this project on life support for so many years.

The Excelsior Energy boondoggle, according to the News-Tribune’s investigation, has hauled in more than $40 million in taxpayer dollars on the false promise of providing 2,000 MW of electricity. But it has yet to turn one spade of dirt on its proposed $2.1 billion power plant on the Iron Range or create one single job outside of the company’s battalion of lobbyists, consultants and lawyers.

Excelsior Energy is into the state Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board for $9.5 million. It got $10 million from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Renewable  Development Fund. And the U.S. Department of Energy shoveled in another $22 million. Yet the owners of Excelsior Energy have put up a miniscule $60,000 for their project and at the same time have reaped combined annual salaries that now are estimated to be $600,000.

The News-Tribune series documented the scandalous political history of Excelsior’s proposed project and the unwavering support it’s received from most of the state’s Iron Range legislators—including the 2008 legislature’s action to shield many of the company’s financial records from public scrutiny. Its owners have quit predicting when the plant will ever be built. And the newspaper rightfully is asking what happened to all the money, and why haven’t our elected officials throwing tens of millions of dollars in public funds at this private enterprise demanded more accountability?

Part of the answer lies in the political influence Excelsior Energy’s co-owners Tom Micheletti and Julie Jorgensen appear to have bought over the past decade through at least $123,775 in political contributions and more than $200,000 in lobbying expenses. It’s a scenario we’ve seen before: A private company forms to promote a dubious enterprise, hires politically connected lobbyists, sucks up millions in government grants, hands out boatloads of campaign cash to politicians who keep the government money flowing to enrich a handful of lobbyists and consultants—and then the cycle repeats itself over and over.

The Excelsior Energy money has gone to Republicans and Democrats alike: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Norm Coleman, Amy Klobuchar, Lori Swanson, the Democratic Congressional campaign Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Minnesota House DFL Caucus, the Minnesota House Republican Campaign Committee.

Often, the money was handed out to both sides in the same year. For example, On January 22, 2002, Micheletti gave $2,500 to the House DFL Caucus. Three days later, he cut another $2,500 check to the Senate DFL Caucus. Then on January 28, 2002, he turned around and gave $2,250 to the House Republican Campaign Committee.

Last year, Micheletti gave $500 to DFLer Mark Dayton’s gubernatorial campaign on July 12 and $500 to Tom Emmer, Dayton’s GOP opponent, on July 16.

Similarly, the Excelsior Energy Inc. PAC in 2010 gave $250 each to Dayton and Emmer, $650 to the state DFL legislative caucuses and $550 to state GOP caucuses.

Norm Coleman was the big winner of the Excelsior Energy Campaign Cash Sweepstakes with a total haul of $14,600 from the Micheletti-Jorgensen household between 1998 and 2008. According to a November 2003 Public Citizen report, Coleman was key to Excelsior Energy securing federal loan guarantees:

“In September (2003), the two Republican congressmen in charge of the energy bill conference committee, New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici and Louisiana Representative W.J. “Billy” Tauzin, unilaterally inserted language into the energy bill at the behest of Minnesota’s GOP Senator Norm Coleman to provide $800 million in federal loan guarantees to one company, Excelsior Energy. The $800 million loan guarantee is apparently designed to help secure Senator Coleman’s vote in favor of the energy bill. The federal assistance to Excelsior Energy was included in neither the House nor Senate versions of the energy bill, adding to the growing list of provisions that a handful of Republican conferees have inserted to appease special interests.”

Despite Public Citizen's characterization of this as an exclusively Republican boondoggle, Democrats have had an equal hand in keeping the money flowing to Excelsior Energy.

Most individual state campaign contributions from Micheletti and Jorgensen were targeted toward DFL Iron Range legislators in districts where the proposed sites for the project are located. The exception is District 3A Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township), the only Iron Range lawmaker who has opposed the project. Anzelc has received no direct contributions from the couple.

Senator Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), an Iron Range legislator who has long been the project’s biggest shill, made out the best among state lawmakers with a total of $3,750 in campaign contributions from Micheletti and Jorgensen from 2002-2008. The Excelsior Energy Inc. PAC kicked in another $500 to Bakk's 2009 gubernatorial campaign.

The Excelsior Energy co-CEO couple placed their biggest bets on legislative caucuses of both parties.

Between 2001-2010, Micheletti and Jorgensen together donated $9,850 to the House DFL Caucus, $7,700 to the House Republican Campaign Committee, $10,950 to the Senate DFL Caucus, and $8,500 to the GOP’s Senate Victory Fund.

Excelsior Energy’s efforts were aided by a cadre of lobbyists in the state, from four in 2005 to nine in 2010. The company currently has eight lobbyists registered with the state.

Besides Tom Micheletti, the longest-serving Excelsior Energy state lobbyist is former Iron Range State Senator Doug Johnson, who chaired the powerful Senate Tax Committee until he retired in 2003. Johnson ran for governor in 1998, and Micheletti donated $500 to his campaign. He has been lobbying for Excelsior Energy since 2005.

Excelsior Energy has had between three and five lobbyists registered with Congress between 2003 and 2009, including Norm Coleman’s former chief of staff Erich Mische in 2006-2007. The company currently has no federal lobbyists registered. In 2006 and 2007, Excelsior Energy’s federal lobbyists reported spending $120,000 and $80,000, respectively.

The News-Tribune investigation found that Excelsior Energy has already spent nearly $20 million in state funds and soon will deplete more than $22 million in federal tax dollars. It has only $1.9 million remaining in unobligated federal Department of Energy funds available, and may be on its last legs, the newspaper reported.

However, there should be no confusion about where at least some of the money has gone, or how Excelsior Energy’s well-compensated husband-and-wife CEO team curried so much political support for their phantom power plant. They did it the old fashioned way—with campaign cash, politically connected lobbyists and self-serving politicians.

It’s a formula that’s always worked.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ohio jails accomplice of veterans fraudster "Bobby Thompson"

The man known as "Bobby Thompson" and George W. Bush
Meanwhile, Minnesota AG does nothing
about phony veterans group that fleeced
Minnesotans out of $1.5 million

By Karl Bremer

Blanca Contreras, an associate of the fraudster known as“Bobby Thompson,” was sentenced to five years in prison by a Cuyahoga County (OH) judge August 10 for her role in bilking Ohioans out of more than $450,000 in “Thompson’s” phony U.S. Navy Veterans Association charity. Contreras pleaded guilty on June 22 to one felony count each of theft, money laundering, tampering with records, and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office, “At various times, Contreras represented herself as the “Acting Treasurer,” “Acting Secretary,” and “Chief Fiscal Officer” of various state chapters of an organization that fraudulently solicited donations advertised to benefit Navy veterans that went by the name of the United States Navy Veterans Association. Of the nearly $2 million in donations solicited in Ohio, little if any were used to benefit veterans.”
"Bobby Thompson" and John Boehner
“Thompson’s” phony charity collected over $1.5 million in Minnesota from 2003-2009 under the not-so-watchful eye of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Nationwide, it’s suspected of hauling in tens of millions more. Money collected under the guise of the USNVA appears to have been funneled to Republican politicians and campaigns across the country, including tens of thousands of dollars to Michele Bachmann, Norm Coleman, the Republican Party of Minnesota and other GOP candidates and entities.

While the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has waged an aggressive manhunt for “Bobby Thompson” and thrown one of his accomplices in jail, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office seems to have turned a blind eye to his fleecing of thousands of Minnesotans out of $1.5 million and done nothing to investigate “Thompson” or the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.
"Bobby Thompson" and John McCain
Unlike the Attorney General’s Office, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board conducted a lengthy investigation into “Thompson’s” fraudulent activities in Minnesota and in May fined him $21,000 for making seven state campaign contributions under a false identity.

The contributions were made under the name “Bobby Thompson” and “Maria D’Annuzio” to the Minnesota House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC), the Republican-leaning Patriot PAC run by GOP political operative Joey Gerdin, the (Marty) Seifert for Governor Committee, and Citizens for David Carlson Committee, 67B, another GOP candidate committee.

Contreras and “Thompson” were both indicted by an Ohio Grand Jury in October 2010. Investigations of the Navy Vets charity also are underway in several other states and by the IRS and Veterans Administration. “Thompson” remains at large using an identity allegedly stolen from a man in Washington.

Concluded Ohio Attorney General DeWine:

“This case makes clear that Ohio will not tolerate scam artists who steal in the name of those who have served our country. I commend the work of our charitable investigators and special prosecutors who worked diligently to bring those who took advantage of Ohioans’ generosity to justice. However, it is important to note that our work in this case is not over until the man known as Bobby Thompson is apprehended and prosecuted for his alleged crimes.”

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the man known as "Bobby Thompson" should contact the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation at 800.282.3784.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

State Campaign Finance Board rules Stillwater 'legislative consultant' is not a lobbyist

Michele Bachmann and Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki
Lawyer for 'consultant' admits contract is 'poorly drafted' and 'misrepresents' scope of work

By Karl Bremer

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board (CFB) on August 16 dismissed my complaint regarding whether Mike Campbell, the “legislative consultant” hired by the City of Stillwater for $1,500 a month who claims he isn’t a lobbyist, should have registered as a lobbyist based on his duties as outlined in a contract with the City.
The CFB’s investigation appears to have consisted of simply asking Campbell's lawyer and Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki whether Campbell lobbied.

The CFB noted that Campbell’s activities on behalf of the City of Stillwater met two of the three criteria for lobbying—that he provided services to the City of Stillwater for the purpose of influencing official legislative or administrative action and that he has been paid more than $3,000 in a calendar year for his services. However, based on responses from Campbell’s lawyer, Ryan Kaess, and Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki, the CFB determined that Campbell did not meet the third criteria of communicating “directly with public or local officials to influence their actions or … with other individuals to urge them to contact public or local officials on behalf of the City of Stillwater.”

“In response to a question on whether Mr. Campbell communicated directly with public and local officials on behalf of the City of Stillwater,” the CFB reported, “Mayor Harycki responded, “I received daily updates as to the status of our legislation but to my knowledge, he did not communicate directly with any groups listed. That is to say at no time did he ever have a conversation by saying “I talked to Senator X and he/she informed me…’
“Mayor Harycki was asked if under the duties of the contract Mr. Campbell communicated with individuals and urged them to communicate with public officials on behalf of the City of Stillwater. In response Mayor Harycki stated, ‘Mr. Campbell did not appear before any groups or issue any communication urging individuals to call. He simply provided me with updates on the status or legislation we were following.’”

Mayor Harycki also was asked about a quote in a media story in which the Mayor attributed in part the success of obtaining funding for the Browne Creek bonding bill to the services provided by Campbell. According to the CFB’s findings, Mayor Harycki states, “I am pleased the Browne Creek bonding was done. In a conversation subsequent to the newspaper story and preceding your letter, Mr. Campbell informed me that the budget settlement was a late night deal that he had no connection to. Throughout the legislative session he did inform me that he was tracking the bill and that we were fine.”

In other words, the Mayor attributed part of the success to the Brown’s Creek funding to Campbell even though he “had no connection to it” and only tracked the bill through the session.

According to the CFB’s findings, Kaess explained that Campbell “provided strategic advice, research and messaging related to legislative initiatives of the City of Stillwater. He did not attempt to influence legislative or administrative action, communicate with public officials or urge others to communicate with public or local officials as defined by Minnesota Statute. At no time did my client ever have contact with any public official for the purpose of advocating a position on behalf of the City of Stillwater.” The CFB’s report notes that “Mr. Kaess acknowledges that Mr. Campbell contacted one legislative staffer and requested research information, but states that Mr. Campbell did not urge the staff member to advocate on behalf of any legislative position.”
Campbell, who reportedly has been a political advisor to the mayor in the past and was hired without advertising or competitive bids, is the sole owner and principal consultant for the Conach Group, Kaess told the CFB.

My complaint to the CFB was based on the fact that the contract between the Conach Group and the City of Stillwater stated that the Conach Group is “To secure the required support of the Federal Government State of Minnesota and any administrative Department of either entity for the approval and funding of the pending St. Croix River Crossing at Stillwater” and “To secure Minnesota Legislative funding for the State purchase of the MN Zephyr Railroad Right of Way as an extension of the State Trail system, support for the New Armory Project and Phase III of the Levy Wall Project." According to the contract, “Consultant services will be rendered largely at the Consultant office and the State of Minnesota Capitol.”

The CFB’s Lobbyist Handbook states that, “You must register as a lobbyist within five days after you … are engaged for pay or other consideration and receive more than $3,000 from all sources in any year, for the purpose of attempting to influence legislative or administrative action or the official action of a metropolitan governmental unit by communicating or urging others to communicate with public officials or local officials in a metropolitan governmental unit.”

However, Campbell is not registered as a lobbyist with the CFB.

But the CFB bought Kaess’s explanation regarding the apparent discrepancy between what the contract states and what Kaess and Harycki claimed Campbell’s duties were.

“Regarding the terms of the contract, Mr. Kaess states, ‘I will concede that the contract is poorly drafted and significantly misrepresents the scope of what The Conach Group did and is doing for the City of Stillwater. However, it is clear, based upon the statements made by the parties that The Conach Group was not retained to lobby for the City of Stillwater, and no one from The Conach Group actually lobbied for the City of Stillwater.”

Concluded the CFB:

“What may be confusing to the general public is that tracking legislation, providing research, and providing advice on actions that a client might take to further a legislative or administrative agenda are all actions that support lobbying efforts. But without direct communication with public or local officials, or communication in which the public is urged to contact public officials on an issue, the definition of lobbying is not met, and registration and disclosure under Chapter 10A is not required.”

Harycki dismissed my complaint as “much ado about nothing.” But Stillwater’s troubles involving its lobbying activities with tax dollars may not be over.

The State Auditor is currently looking into the legality of Campbell’s hiring, as well as the city’s donation of $80,000 in Stillwater Tax Increment Financing funds to the Coalition for the St. Croix River Crossing, another lobbying group supporting the construction of the “Bachmann Boondoggle” freeway bridge across the St. Croix.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Michele Bachmann's Missing Mediation Business

Did Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC ever exist?

By Karl Bremer

Since Michele Bachmann announced her candidacy for president, national and international media have been rummaging through the Dumpster of her life for whatever details about her past they can uncover among the refuse. Much of what is known about her professional and political career has become a staple of her biography: Graduated from Anoka High School in 1974, graduated from Winona State University in 1978, graduated from Oral Roberts University in 1986, got a tax law degree in 1988 from William and Mary School of Law, worked for the IRS from 1988-1993, got elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 2000, and elected to Congress in 2006.

But those seven years between the IRS and State Senate seem to be missing a few pages—particularly anything about "Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC," a business that even Bachmann is uncharacteristically silent on.

You won’t find anything on Bachmann’s official Congressional website about Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC. Nor will you find anything in her bio on her presidential campaign website. Nothing in her Wikipedia entry either. But the alleged business did exist—at least on paper—and was registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office from October 2000 to 2003. The business is now listed as “inactive.”

A business listing for Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC on manta.com describes it as a “Communication Services, NEC” company with an SIC code of 4899. Dun & Bradstreet also listed Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC under “communication services.” Other companies similarly listed with the SEC include satellite and wireless telecommunications companies, not mediation services. Estimated annual revenue of the LLC, according to the manta.com listing, was $67,000. Bachmann’s old home address in Stillwater is listed as the business address.

Bachmann sponsored an “Adopt-a-Highway” stretch of Stonebridge Trail in Washington County under the auspices of “Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC” from 1995 until October 2001, when she requested that Washington County change the name of her Adopt-a-Highway signs to “State Senator Michele Bachmann.” (The signs later had to be changed again to read simply “Michele Bachmann” when it was discovered that the use of her political title was not allowed under county rules.) She used her home address on her Adopt-a-Highway application as well, according to the Washington County Transportation Department.

Bachmann’s political websites simply gloss over the missing seven years between the IRS and the State Senate.

“Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, Michele was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in 2000 where she championed the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. Before that, she spent five years as a federal tax litigation attorney, working on hundreds of civil and criminal cases,” her campaign website states.

“Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, Bachmann served in the Minnesota State Senate from 2000-2006. As a Minnesota State Senator, she championed the Taxpayers Bill of Rights. Before holding elected office, Bachmann worked on hundreds of civil and criminal cases as a federal tax litigation attorney,” her congressional website states.

Bachmann never fails to mention her and her husband’s Christian counseling clinic wherever she goes. And she's bragged about virtually every other job she claims she's held, from bus driver to fish cleaner. Yet she’s never spoken publicly about her alleged mediation business.

Despite the avalanche of news stories about Bachmann in recent months, including a 9,000-word opus in the New Yorker magazine, you won’t find a word about Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC in any of them.

There’s nothing in public court records to be found about Michele Bachmann Mediation LLC either, and nothing turns up in searches anywhere else. So what gives?

Did Michele Bachmann ever actually do any mediation, and if so, for whom? Was it just a scam to claim a home-office deduction on her taxes without ever actually doing any business? It is known that the Bachmanns spent part of those years protesting at abortion clinics. Perhaps she called that activity “mediation” much like other such protestors call it “sidewalk counseling.”

Bachmann has already tried to claim her family’s pray-away-the-gay clinic is off-limits to reporters (unless she brings it up). Maybe she’d rather answer some questions about her other alleged business instead. If, in fact, it ever existed at all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Farmer's Video Captures Alleged Sasquatch North of Stillwater

Is Bigfoot on the prowl in Washington County?

By Karl Bremer

Out here in rural Washington County, wildlife is abundant. I shoot all the deer I need within 100 yards of my back door. Wild turkey are as common as crows. Black bear are regularly spotted in the township, and even the occasional cougar.

But last month may be the first alleged sighting of Sasquatch in Washington County, and Ripple in Stillwater has learned that it occurred about 5 miles or less from our world headquarters here in Stillwater Township.

On July 6, a farmer and his wife were walking through the woods next to their hayfield north of Stillwater when they heard a low grunting sound. The farmer whipped out his new iPhone and shot about 5 seconds of video of something running through the woods. It wasn’t until he looked at it a few days later that he realized that it may not have been a deer after all.

An internet denizen who goes by the name of "SasquatchWatcher" posted the video to youtube, with his own annotations. He described the alleged Bigfoot creature in the video as an “Auburn Sasquatch,” a reference to its hair color, and left no doubt as to his opinion of the video’s authenticity.

"This is a wonderful example of how adept Sasquatch are at hiding and moving through thick brush,” he notes, and cautions that “We know of at least one nutbar in Minnesota who is actively trying to kill a Sasquatch with his .306.”

The narrator states that the video was shot “near the St. Croix” and that “there have been a number of sightings up and down, we’ve had a number of experiences two hours west and two hours north of this spot.”

According to the video, the unnamed videographer stated:

“We are in (blank) town in Minnesota (north of Stillwater). During a usual walk in the woods next to our hayfield, we thought we scared up a deer, but hearing a low, odd-sounding grunt, we started moving a little faster. I just bought an iPhone so I obsessively photograph or video everything. The video surprised me when I viewed it days later. Doesn’t look like a deer to me. Time was just minutes after sunset.”

The narrator describes various markings and movements of the figure in the video—“all over Auburn hair, high shoulders, gray hands, pigmentation line on hand, muscles move when right foot stomps”—and notes that they match other Sasquatch sightings on record.

The video notes that "The filmer answered a few questions, realized this was serious and wisely chose not to pursue it."

Ripple in Stillwater has its own theories about what our nearby farmer may have captured on video. What do you think?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Washington County GOP officer calls Pulkrabek domestic assault charges 'a mild form of abuse'

SD52 GOP Deputy Chair Eric Langness and Michele Bachmann

By Karl Bremer

Bill Pulkrabek
Washington County Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek, the man who takes credit for launching Michele Bachmann’s political career, pleaded not guilty to domestic assault in Chisago County Court Aug. 4. He allegedly threw his girlfriend on his bed by her hair, tried to choke her and then dragged her down the stairs by her hair in a Memorial Day incident in Woodbury.

But one Washington County Republican Party officer suggests that Pulkrabek is being persecuted for political reasons and described the domestic assault charges against him as “a mild form of abuse.”

Eric Langness of Forest Lake, deputy chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota Senate District 52, made his comments online on the St. Paul Pioneer Press report on Pulkrabek’s court appearance.

“Who is in charge of this trial?” Langness wrote. “They have 4 counties (Washington, Anoka, Chisago and Ramsey) all mentioned as players in it. Even if guilty this is a mild form of abuse in comparison to so many others I would question if we're causing all this trouble simply because the man holds elected office.” Langness adds the caveat: “For the record, I'm NOT defending the actions or the accused.”
Langness may not be “defending the actions or the accused,” but his take on the severity of Pulkrabek’s alleged domestic assault is rather odd for a guy who describes himself on his Facebook page as a “trusted conservative voice.”

For the record, the Woodbury Police report states that Pulkrabek’s girlfriend alleged he “threw her onto his bed by her hair … he then pulled her down the stairs and out of his residence by her hair … that she was held down when on the bed and Pulrabek placed his forearm across her neck, which hindered her ability to breathe.” She told police she “pushed and kneed him to get him off of her.”

According to the Pioneer Press, Pulkrabek’s girlfriend stated in her application for a restraining order against Pulrabek that the argument was “sparked by a cat and an Estee Lauder skin-care product.”

Langness, a former Forest Lake School Board member,  lists Michele Bachmann among the people he is inspired by, and like Pulkrabek, has been an ardent defender of her in the past. Langness was also on Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial campaign and is a past communications director for State Sen. Ray Vandeveer's campaign.

He is director of career services at Anthem College.

No trial date has been set for Pulkrabek. It will be held in Washington County.

Top photo: Facebook
Pulkrabek mugshot: Washington County Jail
Quote image: St. Paul Pioneer Press

Monday, August 1, 2011

Marcus Bachmann's $6,230 Mileage Reimbursement Mystery

Was spouse's 'driving-around money' legitimate?

By Karl Bremer

Michele Bachmann may wish to shield her husband Marcus from the prying eyes of the national media as she seeks the presidency. But both she and Marcus have some explaining to do about a $6,230 payment from her 2006 campaign to Marcus for “mileage reimbursement.”

The payment was made on Dec. 15, 2006, and was reported on Bachmann’s year-end Federal Election Commission (FEC) statement from 2006. It covered the period of Nov. 28, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2006. Curiously, Marcus’ last name was misspelled on Bachmann’s own FEC report.

Based on the federal mileage reimbursement rate of 44.5 cents/mile at the time, that payment represents exactly 14,000 miles. That’s a lot of miles that Marcus put on for Michele's campaign in 34 days—418 miles a day to be exact—especially considering Marcus claims he drove them a month after the 2006 election was over. It would be interesting to see Marcus’ mileage logs from that busy month on the road.

DumpBachmann.com thought the expense was a bit suspicious at the time, and noted the sizeable disbursement on Feb. 14, 2007. As usual, it was ignored by the mainstream media and nothing more was ever heard about it.

Then, on Bachmann’s next FEC report for First Quarter 2007, a mysterious entry showed up: a Feb. 22, 2007 receipt to the campaign from Marcus Bachmann for the exact same amount as the earlier mileage payment—$6,230. The entry is identified as “Offsets to Operating Expenditures,” which according to FEC rules includes refunds, rebates and returns of deposits.  An aggregate total of $6,530 is listed in the same entry, but it’s not clear where the other $300 came from.

Was this refund from Marcus Bachmann an admission that the “mileage reimbursement” was erroneously paid to him and if so, what prompted it?

Ripple in Stillwater has asked Bachmann’s campaign for an explanation of Marcus' mileage mystery. Maybe the FEC should too.

UPDATE, 8.2.2011:

The additional $300 shown in the aggregate total for Marcus Bachmann's campaign "donations" is most likely for this receipt of a donation from Marcus Bachman (sic) to Michele's campaign: $300 for "personal use of vehicle" dated Dec. 11, 2006.

Also, the mileage rate for 2006 was 44.5 cents per mile, not 48.5 cents per mile as originally reported. The rate changed on Jan. 1, 2007 to 48.5 cents. The figures above have been adjusted accordingly.

H/t to City Pages for spotting this.

Michele Bachmann files FEC report using false address

Is presidential candidate being deliberately deceitful by using bogus address with state, FEC?

By Karl Bremer

For the second time in a week, Ripple in Stillwater has discovered Michele Bachmann using a false address on official government filings. This time it’s on two Federal Election Commission (FEC) receipts for “mileage reimbursement.”

Bachmann’s old Stillwater address where she hasn’t lived for three years was reported on two campaign disbursement receipts that her campaign filed with the FEC earlier this year. One was for $74.80 on Feb. 3, 2011; the other was for $562.51 on Feb. 7, 2011. Both were for payments to Bachmann. It would seem to be hard to explain how a candidate’s own campaign could still be using a 2008 address for the candidate on 2011 FEC reports—particularly when one of the disbursements to the candidate requires a “receipt, invoice or cancelled check.” 
Federal election campaign laws state that “The treasurer of a political committee shall keep an account of … the name and address of every person to whom any dis­bursement is made, the date, amount, and purpose of the disbursement, and the name of the candidate and the office sought by the candidate, if any, for whom the disbursement was made, including a receipt, in­voice, or cancelled check for each disbursement in excess of $200.”

It may take a complaint filed with the FEC to determine what address was listed on the receipt, invoice or check that Bachmann provided her campaign for her reimbursement. The FEC frowns on candidates filing false information, and it looks especially bad when the information is the candidate’s own address on a reimbursement receipt. 

It’s not likely the current owners of Bachmann’s old house would be happy to find out that she’s been using their address on her legal filings, either, because this isn’t the first time.

Ripple in Stillwater reported last week that Bachmann listed the same phony address on her annual state lawyer’s registration filed July 11, 2011. According to the state’s “Rules of the Supreme Court on Lawyer Registration,” that should result in an automatic suspension of Bachmann’s right to practice law in Minnesota and render her status “not in good standing.”

It's also not the first time Bachmann's mileage reimbursements have been questioned. DumpBachmann.com noted a suspicious FEC receipt for $6,230 in "mileage reimbursement" to Marcus Bachmann, Michele's husband, back in 2007.